POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - JUNE 23RD, 2010

Jun 23, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

Now THAT was an interesting day. Shortly after the U.S. put Algeria away with a last-minute goal from Landon Donovan, Barack Obama put Stanley McChrystal away, replacing him with David Pretraeus. On the Hill, Joe Barton apologized and unapologized about 30 more times (last we checked, he's feeling bad for BP) and David Vitter's office is once again catching flak for its disgusting approach to women. Speaking of BP, only those clowns would employ a clumsy robot. This is HUFFPOST HILL for June 23rd, 2010:

BREAKING

FANNIE MAE FLUSHING UNDERWATER HOMEOWNERS DOWN THE TOILET - Fannie announced today that it is targeting homeowners who walk away from underwater mortgages that it deems they could have continued paying. Fannie will also work to force homeowners to make delinquency payments to banks. So let's get this straight: Fannie Mae fails to see an $8 trillion housing bubble forming and, worse, blows air into it by buying up garbage subprime loans. The bubble pops, the housing market collapses, the economy is devastated, and Fannie's response is to target people whose homes are now worth less than they owe on them, partly as a result of Fannie's own failures? Fannie, of course, will be launching this assault on the American people using the hundreds of billions of dollars those people have forked over to them. Look, Fannie: Defaulting on a mortgage is part of the contract. The bank gets the house. If the bank made a bad bet, the bank can eat the loan. But not in Fannie Mae's world. The Fannie approach mirrors a GOP motion to recommit offered recently. http://huff.to/9U59eW

A Fannie spokeswoman didn't return a call from a righteously indignant HuffPost Hill, but here's their petulant press release. http://bit.ly/berIJK

Brad Miller: Those Were The Droids We Were Looking For - "I can't help but notice that every group now frantically calling for tough penalties for homeowners who walk away was virulently opposed to judicial modification of mortgages in bankruptcy (cramdown)," Rep. Brad Miller notes to HuffPost Hill. "They said foreclosures were not going to be that big a problem, nothing to worry about, these aren't the droids you're looking for." http://bit.ly/tDeqh

IG FOR FANNIE/FREDDIE REJECTED BY WALL STREET CONFEREES - Darrell Issa attempted to amend the bill in conference today to mandate that FHFA, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, re-empower its inspector general. Fannie and Freddie have been operating without an IG looking over their shoulder for nearly most of the past two years and Obama has declined so far to appoint one. But we're sure there are no shenanigans going on over there. Issa's amendment was deemed not germane by Barney Frank.

WASHINGTON REACTS TO MCCHRYSTAL SACKING - John Boehner: "I have great respect for General McChrystal and the job he's done in Afghanistan and elsewhere in service of our country, but I respect the decision of our Commander-in-Chief."

John McCain: "I appreciate the bravery and service of General McChrystal, and I understand and respect the president's decision concerning General McChrystal."

Eric Cantor: "I have maintained from the start that the decision to keep or dismiss General McCrystal was the President's alone. General Petraeus is a respected leader with a record of success in helping to stabilize Iraq and has also expressed concern about the 2011 deadline, which I share."

John Kerry: "The commander in chief has made it clear no one is bigger than the mission and nothing less than a unified effort in Afghanistan will get the job done."

Sam Stein notes that McChrystal survived a number of offenses before being sacked today. "McChrystal was the head of Special Operations command in Afghanistan when Army Ranger and former football star Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire. He approved the paperwork awarding Tillman a Silver Star for dying in the line "of enemy fire" -- and he was "accountable for the inaccurate and misleading assertions" contained therein, according to an investigation -- despite knowing (or at least suspecting) that Tillman had died in an episode of fratricide...The second episode was even less well-known. Years after the Tillman death, McChrystal was mentioned several times in a report by Human Rights Watch which documented the abuse and torture of detained prisoners at Camp Nama in Iraq." http://huff.to/czBkcQ

White House releases a photo from inside the Afghan strategy meeting: http://flic.kr/p/8cMRgk

FINAL WALL STREET SHOWDOWN BEGINS TONIGHT - The House put out its derivatives offer today, setting up the final battle over Blanche Lincoln's swaps provision that Wall Street is terribly annoyed to have to still be fighting. Barney Frank said that the Senate will give the House its Volcker Rule offer tonight to debate tomorrow and also said he expects the House to move to final passage of reform Tuesday in the House and the Senate later that week. The Volcker Rule bars banks from trading for their own profit with taxpayer-backed money.

Frank, State Securities Regulators Push Back On Harkin - Barney Frank tells HuffPost Hill he thinks Sen. Tom Harkin's amendment to exempt insurance annuities from federal regulation goes too far. The Senate has adopted it and the House has yet to weigh in. "The House has been divided on that. There's some opposition to it. I think it goes too far," said Frank. "I haven't talked to all the conferees on it." Denise Voigt Crawford, Texas Securities Commissioner, wrote to Congress today on behalf of securities regulators: "The problems associated with the marketing of indexed annuities are a matter of record in countless news articles, government warnings, regulatory enforcement actions, and lawsuits filed by innumerable investors seeking damages for the unsuitable and fraudulent sale of indexed annuities."

Reid: "I apologize to everyone" for the slowness of the extenders bill, which the Majority Leader explained is because they keep having to score changes requested by senators. Not clear if Reid was apologizing to the Senate or to America, but either way a spokesman said Republicans are to blame for the delay. A new version of the bill started coming over the horizon as HuffPost Hill went to bed...

CHIEF TARP OVERSEER SUPPORTS CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY - Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who originated the idea of the consumer financial protection agency, supports the current version of the bureau that Wall Street reform conference committee negotiators are settling on, she told the Huffington Post. "I'm disappointed that Congress seems to be taking the side of auto lenders and big banks over the Pentagon, community banks, and all the public interest groups that oppose an auto dealer carve-out, and there are some other problems as well," said Warren in a statement to HuffPost. "But right now the bureau has the authority and the independence it needs to fix the broken credit market. I keep waiting for an incoming missile that means the banks have won their fight to destroy this consumer agency, but that hasn't happened so far -- and I don't think it will." http://huff.to/aDLG41

TOMORROW'S PAPERS TODAY - Roll Call: Jessica Brady on Senate Agriculture Chairman Blanche Lincoln who expressed strong frustration Wednesday following a closed-door meeting with House and Senate leaders to discuss the financial regulatory reform bill, during which Members warned that language she authored imposing new regulations on the derivatives market has limited support in the House. http://bit.ly/9PSY0L The Hill: Molly K. Hooper on how Rep. Joe Barton retained his position as the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

John McCain picture tweets: "The three amigos together again... http://yfrog.com/74ifjpj"

Steven Strasburg on the mound! Strasburg started at 4:30 and USA Today is liveblogging it: http://bit.ly/driWGd

"The top national security counselor to Attorney General Eric Holder has been named the Department of Justice Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London." Main Justice: http://bit.ly/bp7v5u

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com

TRENDING

OBAMA SACKS MCCHRYSTAL, PETRAEUS WILL LEAD AFGHANISTAN EFFORT - Seriously, Petraeus will be refereeing the World Cup if he keeps up the competency. AP: "President Barack Obama ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday, saying his scathing published remarks about administration officials undermined civilian control of the military and eroded trust on the president's war team. Obama chose McChrystal's immediate superior - Gen. David Petraeus - to take over the troubled 9-year-old war in Afghanistan. The president said he did not make the decision to accept McChrystal's resignation over any disagreement in policy or "out of any sense of personal insult." "I believe it is the right decision for our national security," Obama said in a statement in the Rose Garden, where he was flanked by Petraeus along with Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. http://huff.to/dBnjxU

Full text of Obama's statement: http://bit.ly/cSo8zH

McChrystal's statement: "This morning the President accepted my resignation as Commander of U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. I strongly support the President's strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations, and the Afghan people." http://bit.ly/cMseEj

Sam Stein notes that McChrystal survived a number of offenses before being sacked today. "McChrystal was the head of Special Operations command in Afghanistan when Army Ranger and former football star Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire. He approved the paperwork awarding Tillman a Silver Star for dying in the line "of enemy fire" -- and he was "accountable for the inaccurate and misleading assertions" contained therein, according to an investigation -- despite knowing (or at least suspecting) that Tillman had died in an episode of fratricide...The second episode was even less well-known. Years after the Tillman death, McChrystal was mentioned several times in a report by Human Rights Watch which documented the abuse and torture of detained prisoners at Camp Nama in Iraq." http://huff.to/czBkcQ

SCANDAL FORCES VITTER STAFFER TO RESIGN - Please note that the guy was an aide for women's issues: "Louisiana Sen. David Vitter accepted the resignation of a longtime aide Wednesday after a news report disclosed repeated brushes with the law dating to the 1990s, the Republican's office said Wednesday. ABC News reported that the aide, Brent Furer, pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges stemming from a knife-wielding altercation with an ex-girlfriend and still is wanted on an open warrant in Baton Rouge stemming from an unresolved misdemeanor DWI charge." AP: http://huff.to/bfAPYF

OIL FLOW UNCHECKED AS BP KNOCKS CAP OFF - Even though the Gulf of Mexico increasingly looks like RoboCop's toilet after a night of heavy drinking, the cap stemming the flow of oil into the gulf was accidentally removed when one of BP's robots bumped into the cover. AP: "When the robot bumped the system, gas rose through the vent that carries warm water down to prevent ice-like crystals from forming in the cap, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said. The cap was removed and crews were checking to see if crystals had formed before putting it back on. Allen did not say how long that might take." http://huff.to/c3KpEn

EXCLUSIVE picture of the accident here: http://bit.ly/crht1K

Spirit Airlines is running a really awkward, oil spill-themed ad. On Tuesday, the company urged customers to "Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches, Plus $50 Off" in an email blast and promotion on the front of its website, sparking outrage that the airline would make light of the crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and fouling beaches. (The promotion is still going, featuring women lounging on beaches covered in tanning oil). http://huff.to/bzIBxx

TEAM USA ADVANCES!!! - GOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!
The Senate Press Gallery came to a standstill this morning as Team USA beat Algeria 1-0 on Landon Donovan's goal in the 91st minute. The Americans were nearly sent home following a botched offsides call that nullified Clint Dempsey's goal in the 21st minute. It is the first time an American team has won its group since 1930. http://huff.to/9ywnHK

Watch Donovan's goal here: http://huff.to/a2yHIT

Next game: Saturday at 2:30 vs. Ghana.

JOE BARTON WILL KEEP TOP ENERGY POST... - We'd like to apologize to the congressman for all the hassle. It must have been very hard. "Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) convened privately with his GOP colleagues Wednesday and apologized for the controversy he created last week by expressing public sympathy for BP during a much-awaited hearing with the oil company's CEO. The apology appears to have done enough to convince his party's leadership to allow Barton to maintain his position as the leading Republican on the House Energy Committee." http://huff.to/9u95QV

...THEN TAKES BACK HIS APOLOGY APOLOGY - What an effing CHOCH!!! Dave Wiegel: "Hours after getting a respite from House Republicans, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) has cheekily responded to criticism over his 'apology to BP' by tweeting a link to an American Spectator article titled 'Joe Barton was right.' The article by Peter Hannaford is a robust defense of what Barton said, knocking the Obama administration for "Alinsky" tactics and hatred of business." http://bit.ly/ade52P

...then he deleted the apology apology apology tweet. Greg Sargent: http://bit.ly/aSf8sK

We're so very sorry to report that Barton is still a draw at Republican fundraisers . Sam Stein: "On Thursday, Dan Meyer, a lobbyist for BP -- the besieged oil company responsible for the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history -- will co-host a luncheon at Hotel George in Washington D.C. for the benefit of Colorado GOP congressional candidate Cory Gardner...And yet that fundraiser could very well take a backseat in terms of political riskiness to the one being held in honor of Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who is putting together a June 30 lunch fundraiser 'With Special Guest, Congressman Joe Barton.' Barton of course was a political toxin last week after he apologized to BP for the 'shakedown' they endured at the hands of the Obama administration."

ROBERT BORK ATTACKS KAGAN - Politico: "Former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork has joined Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion group, to oppose Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination to the Court, pointing to Kagan's admiration for Aharon Barak -- the former chief justice of Israel's supreme court, whom conservatives regard as an activist judge. In a conference call with reporters, Bork said Kagan's public praise for Barak is evidence that her judicial philosophy has not yet matured. He called Barak "the worst judge on the planet," who has repeatedly demonstrated -- and touted -- his reputation as an activist judge in the Israeli legal system." http://politi.co/9Kn9Qe

The Sunlight Foundation has compiled Elena Kagan's e-mails from her time in the Clinton Administration and presented them as an actual e-mail inbox. http://bit.ly/a7IJ3y

SWIPE FEE DEAL IN JEOPARDY - Lobbyists for merchants battling Wall Street over the fees charged to use credit card machines are worried that a rearguard action is being mounted by Reps. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.). Moore is a leading member of the New Democrat coalition, a group of generally Wall Street-friendly Democrats. "I've been talking to Gary Peters and Dennis Moore about reinforcing the discrimination piece," Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told HuffPost Hilll Wednesday afternoon. "There may be some further language reinforcing the provision that you can't have discrimination against the smaller banks. That is from the credit unions. One of the major concerns they have is that even though the bill says they can't be discriminated against that they will be and we want to toughen up the language that protects the smaller institutions." http://huff.to/9QeEpq

On the Senate floor last night, Sheldon Whitehouse said a "Republican debt orgy" is responsible for the current spending crisis. "I understand the point about the debt and the deficit and the spending," he said, adding, "We would have none of this if it hadn't been for the Republican debt orgy that they went through." Arthur Delaney: http://huff.to/cAj2tx

Set your DVR: Jill Biden will appear on an episode of "Army Wives" to promote awareness of military issues. August 15, 2010, at 10 p.m. EST. Fishbowl: http://bit.ly/bE8dqp

A spokesman for Republican Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich apologized today for saying that Ted Strickland had 'grown up in a chicken shack.'' AP: "Spokesman Rob Nichols said Wednesday he shouldn't have referenced the Democratic governor's Appalachian upbringing when he criticized Strickland's handling of urban issues. Nichols on Tuesday said, 'Having grown up in a chicken shack on Duck Run, he has all but ignored our cities' economies and their workers.'"

Meet Tom Coburn's favorite girl in the world, Madeline. Delaney: "Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn says, 'What about Madeline?' Madeline is a little girl from Maryland who was photographed at a Tea Party protest with a pacifier and a sign that said 'I'm already $38,000 in debt and I only own a dollhouse.' Coburn has spoken about Madeline no fewer than six times since December, most recently on June 17, using the photo to illustrate the national debt (and updating the amount Madeline owes according to www.usdebtclock.org). Every time the Republicans prevent speedy passage of an unemployment bill that would add to the deficit, Madeline has been there."

ELIOT SPITZER LANDS CNN SHOW - David Vitter and staff, move over. Speaking of sex crimes and the politicians who commit them, Client #9 will co-host a "roundtable discussion" program alongside Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker at the 8pm hour, replacing Campbell Brown. The show will debut this fall. http://huff.to/cGicbq

Spitzer and Parker spoke about the new show with HuffPost. "It will be much less artificial than Crossfire," Parker said. "We're going to be an organic talk show where we sit around the kitchen table -- not literally, but that's the idea -- and talk about what everybody talks about when they're in the kitchen." Spitzer chimed in: "Big issues, little issues, coming at it from different perspective, same perspective, agree, disagree, but in a way that people are going to be drawn into, to find it amusing and fun and informative." http://huff.to/dwZTOz

Olbermann responds to the HuffPost: "As to Governor Spitzer and Ms. Parker, as they replace my old co-host Campbell as she replaced my friend Roland as he replaced Campbell as she replaced my old guest host Rick as he replaced Campbell as she replaced my old colleague Paula as she replaced my buddy Connie: best of luck." http://huff.to/9Ltwf5

While Eliot Spitzer has us on the topic of comebacks, a new poll finds 40% of Americans think Jesus' second coming will occur by 2050. http://bit.ly/caLzOs

SENATE PRESS GALLERY PARTY - The Senate daily press corps bid farewell to several tremendous journalists today at a gathering that had the feeling of the passing of an era. Mike Posner came to the gallery in 1959 with UPI and is saying goodbye, as are longtime veterans Keith White, Mike Myers, Dave Hess ("the fastest writer in the world") and Lou Peck. Susan Milligan is going on sabbatical. Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley came by to wish off Myers, a regional Iowa reporter. Most are taking CongressDaily buyouts.

AP's Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier is heading to the National Journal where word is he'll be making a boatload of money. "With [acting Bureau Chief] Steve [Komarow]'s steady hand on the tiller, we will now begin a search for a permanent bureau chief, and expect applications from both inside the AP and outside," reads an internal memo provided to HuffPost Hill.

ALSO: Spencer Ackerman is moving from the Washington Independent to Wired.

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: It will stay hot, with lows in the upper 80s. That can only mean one thing...Tomorrow: It's going to be brutal. Temperature in the mid-90s, and a strong possibility of scattered thunderstorms (including severe thunderstorms) late afternoon to early evening. Thanks, JB!

And now for a bit of weather trivia. It's pretty common knowledge that the Celsius temperature scale was based on the temperatures of freezing and boiling water. However, we don't use Celsius. What is the basis of the Fahrenheit scale? First one to correctly respond to jbinckes@huffingtonpost.com will win a shout-out. Gauntlet thrown down, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- Darth Vader totally kicking ass at the World Cup. http://bit.ly/aelqDK

- Continuing our recent obsession with Nintendo, how to beat Super Mario 3 in 11 minutes. http://bit.ly/aiI5WC

- A man was run over by a car when a dog put it in gear. #MANSDEADLIESTFRIEND http://bit.ly/alve6k

- Penis broken? There's an app for that. http://bit.ly/aifqxM

- The sexiest tire commercial ever. http://bit.ly/a5XkQb

- Left hand, blue. Right foot, yellow. Left foot, red. Whole body, awesome. The Twister jacket. http://bit.ly/aoxMuo

TWITTERAMA

@GenMcChrystal: Papa was a Rolling Stone...http://bit.ly/aJL7Gs

@sethmeyers21: As punishments go, you could do worse than "you're no longer in charge of winning the war in Afghanistan." http://bit.ly/awyzKD

@BPGlobalPR: One of our robots knocked the cap off the well. Don't worry, he's grounded for 2 weeks w/ no allowance. http://ow.ly/22lnV

@FakeAPStyleBook: raise/rise - You may try to raise people from the dead, but it's up to them whether they rise. http://bit.ly/aWRxeQ

THE TUBE

TONIGHT: Ben Cardin and Charlie Melancon talk to Chris Matthews about the oil spill and our own Roy Sekoff talks W. Joe Lieberman is on O'Reilly. Mark Rubio talks to Hannity. TOMORROW: Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg stop by Fox and Friends.

ON TAP

5:30 pm: Because Hill staffers don't stare at enough screens, they are cordially invited to an Xbox 360 game night. If nothing else, it might be fun to watch Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) play Halo. [Rabyurn 2325].

9:00 pm: NOMA Summer Screen will be airing the '90s-iest of sci-fi movies, "The Fifth Element" [L Street NE between 2nd & 3rd Street].

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: RAGE YOUR BRAINS OUT at James Sensenbrenner's (R-Wisc.) "Martinis and Mayhem." IT WILL BE EXTREEEEMMMEEEEE [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

5:30 pm: Feast yourselves on some of Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) delicious cream at his "9th Annual Issa Cream" get-together. People love Issa's cream so much that the Republican California congressional delegation is invited. That's right, there's been nearly a decade of Issa Creams and no one has pointed out how gross it is [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: As if summer isn't expensive enough with the price of electricity, Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) wants you to "Celebrate Summer...California Style" for $1,000 [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

7:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Whole lotta lawmakers attending the Carole King/James Taylor concert this evening. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), John Hall (D-N.Y.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) all want to feel like natural women [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Nico Pitney (nico@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e